U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Communities Local Energy Action Program (LEAP) Pilot

In March 2022, the City of Richmond applied for and was awarded the United States Department of Energy Communities Local Energy Action Program (LEAP) Pilot to receive supportive services valued at up to $16M for community driven clean energy transitions. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) selected the City of Richmond as one of 24 participants in its first-ever Communities Local Energy Action Program (Communities LEAP). The program aims to facilitate sustained community-wide economic and environmental benefits primarily through DOE’s clean energy deployment work and is specifically open to low-income, energy-burdened communities that are also experiencing either direct environmental justice impacts, or direct economic impacts from a shift away from historical reliance on fossil fuels.  

Under this pilot program, the City will develop a Richmond Equitable Existing Buildings Electrification Plan (REEBEP) in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) technical assistance provider.

LEAP Communities Map


Sabrina Paras
Sustainability Specialist- CivicSpark Fellow
City of Richmond

Samantha Carr
Environmental Manager
City of Richmond

Project Timeline & Vision

Over an 18-month period beginning in July 2022, NREL will conduct a city-wide building and energy use analysis, and develop and assess the feasibility and impact of various approaches to electrifying all existing buildings within the city limits. The original assessment will consider all publicly and privately owned and operated buildings (residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional), and NREL will work with the City and the Richmond Community Foundation (RCF Connects) to develop more targeted implementation scenarios for consideration by Richmond’s City Council. The final Report deliverable will include an implementation framework and resources to help Richmond equitably transition its existing building stock from reliance on natural gas to clean electricity. 

Technical Assistance Timeline

Specific outcomes and areas for research and analysis may include:

  1. Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from HVAC systems, appliances, and machinery used in all Richmond’s existing buildings 
  2. Reduction in energy use in all existing buildings  
  3. Reduction in energy burden for low and moderate-income households 
  4. Improvement in buildings-related health and safety outcomes for all Richmond residents and workers 
  5. Stimulation of demand for local workers in buildings energy efficiency and clean energy jobs 
  6. Education of community members (residents, businesses, workers and the City) about research described above, as well as true costs, benefits, opportunities, and processes involved in building electrification  

Policy Synergies

The Richmond Equitable Existing Building Electrification Plan (REEBEP)  aligns with:

The project will also complement and coordinate with efforts being undertaken concurrently through the City’s Green Blue New Deal (GBND).

Additional Information

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is leading the implementation of the Communities LEAP program. Communities LEAP is supported by six DOE offices: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Fossil Energy and Carbon Management, Electricity, Indian Energy, Policy, and Economic Impact and Diversity. For more information visit, https://www.energy.gov/communitiesLEAP/communities-leap.

Communities LEAP logo_FINAL

Posted on: November 30, 2022

Richmond Partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy

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Richmond Reaches First Milestone in its Partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy to Cut Pollution from Buildings. The Communities LEAP Pilot Will Support Richmond’s Efforts to Equitably Electrify Existing Buildings

Richmond, CA—The City of Richmond and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have finalized their plan for the city’s participation in DOE’s Communities Local Energy Action Program (LEAP) Pilot to equitably electrify existing homes and buildings in Richmond

Fossil fuel use in homes and buildings is the source of one-third of Richmond’s greenhouse gas pollution and was identified in the City’s 2016 Climate Action Plan as an area for future work. The Richmond Communities LEAP project will focus on understanding the opportunity for long-term phase-out of natural gas use in Richmond’s existing buildings, and its replacement with electric options powered by clean energy.  NREL will analyze the potential impacts of electrification on environmental health, indoor air quality, utility costs, and employment opportunities, and will support the city in developing strategies to maximize the benefits of electrification for all members of the Richmond community. NREL’s research will also be informed and guided by engagement with residents and key stakeholders.

This project builds on Richmond’s existing efforts including the 2021 ban on natural gas in new buildings, the 2016 Climate Action Plan, the Richmond General Plan, the city’s Health in All Policies Ordinance, and the Transparent Richmond tracking platform. The project will also complement and coordinate with efforts being undertaken concurrently through the city’s Green Blue New Deal (GBND) project.

Communities LEAP is a Department of Energy pilot program designed to provide technical assistance to communities that have experienced historic environmental inequity or the economic consequences of the declining fossil fuel industry and are now focused on developing clean energy projects to equitably improve environmental conditions and increase economic opportunity. NREL is one of the Department of Energy’s 17 national laboratories and is focused on advancing science and engineering related to energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainable transportation, as well as the integration and optimization of energy systems.